Hospices of Hope’s new project Ryder Albania by CEO Alex Padureanu

Hospices of Hope is extending its work into Albania by supporting existing hospice organization Ryder Albania.

Ryder Albania started work in Tirana in 1993. It was established with support from the Sue Ryder Charity in the UK and the two organizations are still closely linked.

Initially Ryder Albania provided free home care services to terminal cancer patients and to the elderly suffering from chronic illness in the capital city. Then in 1996 it extended its services and opened a home care service in Durres, the second largest city in Albania. For a while the organization rented space and was able to provide in-patient services.

Sadly lack of funds during the recession meant that this service had to come to an end. Ryder Albania’s multidisciplinary teams offer services in patient’s homes in both Tirana and Durres.

The hospice started with two doctors and a nurse in Tirana. It now has two multi-disciplinary teams – one in each location. They provide free medical care, psychological counselling and assistance with social services to patients and their families. The Tirana team cares for approximately fifty patients and the Durres team looks after forty. The total number of patients helped in the period from 1993 to June 2018 is in the region of 8,400 (4,400 in Tirana and 4,000 in Durres). Ryder Albania has supported 25,200 close family members.

As well as caring for patients Ryder Albania provides palliative care training within the country and has taken on a lobbying role to improve hospice services. To date more than 1,200 doctors, nurses and social workers from different areas of the country have been trained by Ryder Albania.

I have visited the Ryder hospices and spent a great deal of time with the teams and I am hugely impressed with the organization and its staff. They care deeply about their patients and approach hospice care in an extremely professional manner.

Dr Kristo Huta, Durres

But the team faces many difficulties providing care in such a poor country.

I had the opportunity to join Dr Ali and Dr Fabian on some home visits and was amazed by their skills. It is very frustrating that such a great team does not have the resources to allow all its members to shine. Everyone I spoke to told me how difficult it is to deliver good palliative care when 99.9% of the families will not pass on the real diagnosis to the patient. Educating the population is an absolute must.

Dr. Fabian explained that not all types of essential opioids can be prescribed in Albania, making pain management difficult. Pediatric opioids do not exist so the only option is to manually adjust adult doses. Whilst opiate based drugs are available for cancer patients they are not authorized for patients suffering from other chronic illnesses.

I was touched by the simple gesture of one of the patients that I met. She kept saying: “thank you for seeing me, thank you so much for caring”.

 Initially we will be providing advice on issues such as fundraising to the teams. But we would like to follow our Moldovan model and establish a national network of hospice services in the country. Plans are still at a very early stage but I am very confident we can work with Ryder Albania to achieve this goal and improve the situation for terminally ill patients who have a desperate need for palliative care.

Alex Padureanu

For information about our work or to donate see our website www.hospicesofhope.com
Hospices of Hope is a working name of Hospice of Hope Romania inc, a registered 501(c)3 charity
with registered address: 29 Dickinson Avenue, Nyack, New York, 10960.